Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Restore Car Balance Billionaires Also "Restoring Art Balance"

What's missing from all this art in San Francisco's iconic areas?  #RestoreArtBalance
Left Image found here. Middle: here.  Right: here.
The wonderful people at Restore Car Balance have been jumping for joy in their vehicles as of late, as they received all the signatures they need to get "Restore Balance" on the initiative. The initiative will help car owners, especially billionaires, drive around San Francisco easier and find free, plentiful, parking everywhere in the city.  The measure will also help make single vehicle ownership more appealing to San Franciscans as well, which in turn will somehow all work out in the best interests of motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit.

The Restore Car Balance does understand though that there's a definite image problem with cars.  Some people might look at vehicles as a barrier in tight-knit cities with a finite supply of land.  Others look at vehicles as a danger on pedestrian/cyclists rich streets, and a blight on the city's landscape.  This is very apparent in the art that we see in many of the iconic areas of San Francisco, and why the same group will "Restore Art Balance".

"Vehicles can add to the beauty and charm of San Francisco's well known streets"
original image found here
Greg Winkle, spokesman for the group, had this to say, "It's very clear to us when you look at pictures of the Golden Gate, Lombard Street, and other well known pathways in San Francisco, is that they are sorely missing vehicles.  It's almost as if they're not wanted. We want to re-energize the public and build a hearty appetite for vehicles in the city."

"Is there anything more breathtaking than a family weaving through a horde of cars on Lombard Street?"
original image found here.
Greg says he's had no issues recruiting talent for this initiative, since he's backed by a slew of billionaires that really "have a boner for private cars and free public parking".  He hopes that once the public sees cars in a more positive, artistic light, they will warm up to having them more than just everywhere.

"We want 'cArt' to make SF citizens, and visitors, to think 'how amazing it would be to be part of that traffic'"
original image found here.

Greg says even though the art isn't selling, at all, it wont stop them for commissioning a second batch since the tech money will continue to flow.  Their second commission will feature the Ocean Beach parking lot, 280 Freeway stub, and pictures of Mayor Lee's Chevy Volt in bus stops, traffic lanes and crosswalks.  The paintings are currently valued at less than $10, but there is some speculation those prices may double over the next few years."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The War on Cars - A Brief and Mildly Accurate History

You may think that the "War on Cars" statement is nothing but hyperbole, created to invoke a knee-jerk response from people so they react first and think later.  But you couldn't be more wrong my friends! The "War on Cars" is only a part of a greater transit battle. To help get you up to speed, here's a brief and mildly accurate retelling of the glorious battles between transportation modes.

It all started In 1817, when Baron von Drais invented a "walking machine" that could help him get around his royal gardens in an efficient manner.  It was considered an extension of walking and the Baron never would have imagined it would be anything more than a fad.  It took about 50 years until bikes were adapted to better serve commuters and started to increase in popularity.
"The Walking Machine"
image found here
The next incarnations of these walking machines were called "The Velocipede" or "Boneshaker" and people used them to get around cities as well as indoor riding in academic institutions.  More and more people, from the upper class to the lower class, started adopting this new mode of leg powered transportation.  The bicycle continued to go through incarnations until it was perfected to the one you see today.
The great bicycle club riding their Penny Farthings and establishing their transit dominance.  Here they are seen driving at breakneck 15 mph speeds on their fragile and tall bikes.
image found here  
Eventually the bicycle became so popular in the 1880s and 1890s (estimated at 10 million of the 75 million people in the US) the cyclists formed the League of American Wheelman.  The group started demanding that the roads be paved to make cycling more hospitable and safe.  This extension of walking was looked at as a perfect way to commute for work, as well as a wonderful leisurely activity and it was considered a symbol of freedom and self-reliance to many Americans.

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. " - Susan B. Anthony
image and quote found here
But this popular mode of transportation wouldn't last for long, as the paths paved for bicycles would soon be used for the all-powerful automobile.   Eventually Reginald Vanderworth Winterbottom, rumored to enjoy being carted to fatty foods and giant shopping establishments, was fed up with the droves of Penny Farthings "scathing the lands".  Vowing to never use his legs again for transport purposes again, he officially declared war on the bicycle in favor of the automobile in 1910.

We shall resign these incipient devices to children on sidewalks and bears in circuses wearing funny hats"
- Reginald Vanderworth Winterbottom
image found here
It was a hard fought battle but the small, lightweight, and relatively harmless bicycles were not match for Winterbottom's motor vehicle army.  Once the battle was over the car armies started to destroy the lives of thousands of pedestrians and cyclists every year and their numbers grew exponentially.  The war seemed all but lost to the motor vehicle, and laws were enacted making it illegal for pedestrians to walk on the streets.  Children would no longer be able to play in the streets as they once did.  Bicycles were forced to compete with cars on the streets that originally served them so well.  Even public transit was hobbled to make room for the gas-powered victors.

Enjoying his new found glory, Winterbottom 'celebrated with far too many spirits whilst driving speedily through the Great Highway' and drove right over a cliff. which is now known as the "Devil's Slide".  While his body and car were never found, his legend still lives on in the hearts of minds of those commuters who partake in the agonizing and slow commutes down that very same road today.

Vehicles celebrating with their daily victory dance
image found here.
In the past couple of decades there's been a resurgence in bicycles trying to reclaim a fraction of the land they once enjoyed in the early days of cycling, and moving along side by side with pedestrians.  Some small battles have been won in cities and towns across the country in the name of public safety and heath.  Often time these skirmishes fail because of LOS concerns, or the screams of motorists to allocate most of the street to storing cars.
"Get out of the way you're in the way of our perfect traffic system!
image found here
The cars, however, are not giving up without a fight for this precious space. The pleas from neighborhoods to have cars share space and slow down have been heard as a "War on Cars".  Nowhere is this more evident than in San Francisco where motor heads are battling to restore car balance to San Francisco, so that bicycles, transit and pedestrians are re-balanced to take a back seat in street prioritizing.  The battle lines have been drawn again and you'll be sure to see "The War on Cars" described anytime people want to modify vehicle dominated space.  Reginald Vanderworth Winterbottom is sure to be rolling around in his submerged automobile grave.

Friday, July 11, 2014

SF Motorists Rejoice While Driving Around Longer, Angrier, For FREE SUNDAY PARKING!

The motorists of San Francisco have a lot more to rejoice about on Sundays, because they'll now be able to drive around longer looking for FREE parking.  People who find parking can now leave their car parked all day as well without ever having to move it. What could possibly go wrong!?

Great news!  You can now circle around downtown SF for free parking on Sundays!
image found here
Gloria Sanderson exclaims, "It took me over 20 minutes to find parking, but I saved a couple of bucks that I would have normally spent on transit, or treating myself to an ice cream after a bike ride into downtown.  There's no way I'm giving up this spot all day after what I went through to earn it."

Why just pay for parking when you can circle around for 10 minutes and maybe find  free parking?
Image found here.
Mayor Lee's Task force came up with the idea of Sunday metering to help with congestion and also make other forms of transportation more palatable.  It would also shore up more money for the underfunded SFMTA, which needs at least 3 billion dollars to upgrade the aging infrastructure.  But then Mayor Lee pushed to remove Sunday parking, for, reasons...  He then sent a press release congratulating himself on repealing the idea that he and his team came up in the first place.  Great Job Lee!

Meanwhile, Muni will increase 25 cents to 2.25, even on Sundays.  But don't worry, parking will remain FREE to anyone who can find it!
Waiting around for free stuff always is a good idea.
image found here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'Citizens for More Television' Group Against Slower City Speed Limits

Recently, Supervisor Eric Mar has asked city government to look into the possibility of reducing traffic speeds in order to help reduce all the injuries and fatalities on the streets of San Francisco. "We must do all that we can do to make sure that the streets are safer for our residents and a speed limit reduction may have a significant impact on achieving this," said Supervisor Eric Mar.  But a lot of people have wondered what kind of impact this might have on motorists, particularly since the average american enjoys watching 5 hours of television a day.

"Well this just f*cking blows!  I'm going to miss part the Price is M*ther*ucking Right!"
Image found here.
Jake Gandson explains, "Hey I'm all for slower speeds and safety, but not if it comes at the expense of less television watching, or if I have to slow down."  The group "Citizens for More Television" have balked at the idea of lower speed limits which t other cities such as Paris and New York have recently implemented.  CFMT argued, "We really don't know what kind of consequences these speed changes have had on TV watching in those cities we really aught to know before we lower driving speeds to safe levels."

If slower speed limits are implemented, it could mean minutes or even tens of minutes before you'll get  home to binge watch.
image found here.
Janic Loftman said she's sympathetic to all those people who are maimed and injured from car traffic every year, but also said, "You know if we could just do this during the summer months when there's not a lot of new programming, I'd be all for it.  Once those fall series start I'm hard pressed to drive the speed limit in the city as it stands."  Where or not slower speeds will happen in San Francisco is still up to debate, but couch potatoes around the city on edge worrying about what commercials they might miss if this passes.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mayor Lee's Parking Excuse - "In Case He Needs to Bolt and Flip-Flop on Issues"

Mayor Lee's been in a lot of hot water recently because his personal chauffeur has parked his personal car in super convenient areas around the city.  Lee has largely remained quiet about it so far while he continues to work with the "best political minds in the city."   Now the Mayor's staff has come out with a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why he needs to parks in bus stops, traffic lanes, and crosswalks.

Mayor Lee's vehicle poised to abandon another idea created by his task force.
Image found here.  
Mayor Lee's spokesman explains, "It's a tactical move when the mayor might need to quickly bolt and flip-flop on an issue.  A perfect example of this was when Mayor Lee went to a SFMTA board meeting to repeal Sunday metering in order to garner support for the Vehicle License Fee Tax, and then quickly drove away to another event to withdraw his support for that very idea."

The Mayor stopping in crosswalk and blocking pedestrians so he can meet with great political minds
Other times the Mayor may need a really close parking spot in a bus stop to create a Task force to come up with innovative ways of funding neglected SFMTA infrastructure, and then dash away from the idea in his personal electric Chevy Volt.  "It's times like this when it's good his personal car is around to get him out of a sticky situation" said Lee's spokesman while rolling her eyes.

Mayor Lee parking in a Bus Stop to show solidarity for the missing service the Sunday metering repeal created.  (Eventually his driver moved to a safer crosswalk)
Photo: David Black
They also said that Mayor Lee will certainly admonish the driver who made his life a heck of a lot easier than what most people in San Francisco experience when taking Muni, or motorists who drive around trying to find parking in congested areas.   She also looked over towards Oakland and said, "at least OUR mayor didn't text and drive, crash into a motorist, and then fail to give them proof of insurance".

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SFMTA to Demolish Housing for Neighborhood Parking Lots

The Great folks at "Restore Car Dominated Balance" 2014 have a lot of well thought out policy plans for the citizens of San Francisco.  They want to make sure that everything is equally shared between cars, bikes, cars, pedestrians, cars, muni, cars and cars.  The SFMTA has already agreed to help pilot one of their brilliant initiatives.

Parking - It's only everywhere and if you try to manage supply you're an asshole.
image found here.
Restore Car Balance Policy 3: A portion of any additional parking or motorists' fees and new bond monies earmarked for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) should go to the construction and operation of neighborhood parking garages.

There's little room to build additional parking garages in most neighborhoods since most of the land is already occupied by parks, businesses, houses and streets, the SFMTA has come up with an innovated way to deal with the issue.  Businesses and home owners put their name into the lottery and the one drawn has their building bulldozed to make room for a new, critically needed, neighborhood parking garage.  Mark Daury, longtime resident of Alamo Square, was the winner of the pilot lottery.

"Hey those are the breaks.  Our neighborhood sorely needs another underutilized parking garage" - Mark Daury,
image found here.
Mark Daury wasn't entirely happy that he was chosen and lost his house, but he feels it make a lot more sense than putting Car Shares on the roads, that help entice 9-13 people to give up their private automobiles, or installing parking meters with demand based pricing to help ease congestion.  "Hey those are the breaks. Our neighborhood sorely needs another underutilized parking garage".  If the pilot is deemed successful, additional parking craters will be constructed in the future.

Restore Car Balance wants to see more beauties like these in every SF neighborhood in the near future.
image found here.